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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Southern pop rockers Hootie and The Blowfish are to play at five Pacific Air Force bases in May, headlining a musical tour to thank troops and their families and boost morale and retention.

Operation Pacific Greetings, sponsored by the Air Force Reserve Command and Pacific Air Forces, is to swing through Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and Hawaii May 14-21.

PACAF Band of the West and Band of the Air Force Reserve will open the concert with contemporary rock music and other well-known favorites, according to tour organizers. Four members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots also will accompany the tour.

Concert dates, with time and venue to be announced, are: Misawa Air Base, May 14; Kadena Air Base, May 15; Kunsan Air Base, May 17; Yokota Air Base, May 19; and Hickam Air Force Base, May 21.

“We want to let family and military members know that we appreciate their service and the separations they have being stationed and deployed overseas,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steven French, public affairs resource manager for the Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

The tour also is a recruitment tool for the Air Force Reserve, “to tell those who are considering separating that we are hiring,” French said. Reserve recruiters will travel with the tour and will be available to talk to airmen, French said.

About 75,800 Air Force reservists train on full- and part-time duty — and about 6,000 Air Force reservists currently are mobilized on full-time, active-duty status in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism, according to a PACAF news release.

In recent years, the Air Force Reserve Command has brought Operation Season Greetings to U.S. Air Forces Europe. “It’s been a while since we brought a tour to the PACAF theater,” French said.

The show, expected to run about two hours, is free. Soon after returning from the Pacific theater, Hootie and The Blowfish are to embark on a concert tour from Georgia to California through July 23, with tickets costing up to $160 at some venues.

The band formed at the University of South Carolina in the late ’80s and released its major label debut, “Cracked Rear View,” in 1994. Most recently, the group released The Best of Hootie and The Blowfish, including songs such as “Let Her Cry” and “Only Wanna Be With You.” The band won 1995 Grammys for best new artist and best pop performance by a group.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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